Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) inspires students, worldwide, to pursue interests and careers in science, technology, engineering, and math through amateur radio communications opportunities with the International Space Station (ISS) on-orbit crew. Students learn about life on board the ISS and explore Earth from space through science and math activities. ARISS provides opportunities for the school community (students, teachers, families, and community members) to become more aware of the substantial benefits of human spaceflight and the exploration and discovery that occur on spaceflight journeys. Students have the opportunity to learn about space technologies and the technologies involved with space communications through the exploration of amateur radio.
Amateur Radio organizations, and space agencies in the USA, Russia, Canada, Japan, and Europe sponsor this educational opportunity by providing the equipment and operational support to enable direct communication between crew on the ISS and students around the world via Amateur Radio. Hundreds of Amateur Radio operators around the world work behind the scenes to make these educational experiences possible. Amateur Radio is a popular hobby and a service in which licensed participants to operate communications equipment with a deep appreciation of the radio art.
ARISS was created and is managed by an international working group, including several countries in Europe as well as Japan, Russia, Canada, and the USA. The organization is run by volunteers from the national amateur radio organizations and the international AMSAT (Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation) organizations from each country. Since ARISS is international in scope, the team coordinates locally with their respective space agency and as an international team through ARISS working group meetings, teleconferences, and webinars.
Goals of the ARISS Program:
- Inspire an interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) subjects and in STEM careers among young people;
- Provide an educational opportunity for students, teachers, and the general public to learn about space exploration, space technologies, and satellite communications;
- Provide an educational opportunity for students, teachers, and the general public to learn about wireless technology and radio science through Amateur Radio
- Provide an opportunity for Amateur Radio experimentation and evaluation of new technologies.
- Provide a contingency communications system for NASA and the ISS crew.
- Provide crew with another means to directly interact with a larger community outside the ISS, including friends and family.
Scheduled ARISS Amateur Radio contacts with the ISS are conducted either by direct contact or by telebridge contact. The method used will depend on the radio station equipment and experienced radio amateur volunteers available to support the contact as well as technical issues related to the orbit of the ISS over the contact location.
Because the ARISS program supports the testing and installation of amateur radio stations aboard
the ISS, astronauts have the equipment available to also make unscheduled ham radio contacts with
radio amateurs all around the world on a one-to-one basis during their personal time. With a very
limited investment in amateur radio equipment, licensed hams, including students who have access
to amateur radio stations in a classroom, can make individual contact with astronauts aboard the ISS
by learning to follow the published orbital schedule and practice some basic amateur radio contact
[Featured photo by NASA on Wikimedia Commons]